The diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have been made with increasing frequency during the last decade. ADD and ADHD are psychiatric disorders characterized by inattentiveness or hyperactivity and compulsiveness which hinder a child's academic or social performance.

In an effort to help children who are struggling at school because of their short attention spans, many parents, teachers, and doctors make the assumption that these children have ADD and start them on medications. Unfortunately, they are often treating the symptoms and not the real cause. High distractibility and difficulty remaining on task are not the sole domain of ADD. These can be symptoms of other problems.

Frequently individuals with ADD / ADHD have difficulties with various forms of learning disabilities such as: reading and language disorders and cognitive, auditory and visual processing difficulties.

Like those with ADD, children with vision-based and auditory processing difficulties exhibit learning problems such as high distractibility, short attention spans, failure to complete assignments, lack good organizational skills, and are often fidgety, off task, and make careless errors. For example, children with eye teaming disorders called convergence insufficiency and convergence excess often appear to have ADD or ADHD. These children have difficulty using their two eyes together at the close-up distances required for reading and writing. These children are often looking around the room, getting a drink, going to the bathroom, staring out the window, or talking to their neighbors. They're taking "vision breaks," although they don't realize that's what they're doing.

The connection between eye teaming problems and attention deficit disorders was recently documented in medical journals. The latest research study found children diagnosed with ADHD were three times as likely to have a convergence insufficiency than children in the rest of the population.

We at Brain Breakthrough assess the child’s visual field of awareness and work with a neuro-optometrist to evaluate the exact nature of the child’s visual problem. If a visual processing disorder is identified, we then utilize Light Stimulation Therapy to address the problems presented.

The Brain Breakthrough Approach:

How Light/Color Therapy Can Help

The Light Stimulation Technique begins with the measurement of the visual field of awareness to ascertain if light is being processed effectively and efficiently in the brain. A series of comprehensive questionnaires help to determine certain areas of the brain that may be affected as well as to specify the necessary wave length(s) to be utilized to restore balance. Eleven different wave bands of color have been found to be effective stimuli for this purpose. By increasing the amount of photocurrent flowing throughout the brain, the Light Stimulation Enhancement and Performance Therapy can improve stimulation of the brain activity, reactivate neural pathways, and improve intellectual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being and performance. Light Stimulation therapy is utilized in enhancing learning abilities, concentration and memory , coordination, athletic performance, sleep patterns, self-esteem, mood, peripheral and night vision.

How Sound Therapy May Help

The majority of children and adults with ADD/ADHD have some auditory reception problems. Although they can hear, they have difficulty making sense of what they hear. They cannot tune out unwanted input and focus on selected sounds. It is this indiscriminate reception of auditory input which leads to the inability to concentrate their attention on a selected topic for any length of time.

By stimulating the frontal lobe, Sound Therapy aims to restore the ability to think quickly and put the brakes on before acting. It also retrains the listening capacity or the auditory reception process, so that the individual can learn to focus on the desired sound and to relay the sound directly to the language centre in the brain. Auditory reception problems are caused by the shutting down of the ear to certain frequencies of sound. The ear muscles become lazy and unresponsive and must be stimulated in order to regain the capacity to tune into the desired sound. Sound Therapy provides this rehabilitation for the ear and re-organizes the auditory transmission in the brain. This process reduces stress and tension in the whole nervous system as the client becomes able to attend to a chosen stimulus instead of being constantly distracted by every sound in the environment.

Very dramatic results have been achieved with Sound Therapy for children with ADD. The first change to be observed may be a marked decrease in activity (for overactive children) while under active children may become more energized. As the listening discrimination is re-trained, memory and concentration improve so that learning can be achieved with a great deal less effort. Sleep and appetite problems are often resolved as the whole system becomes calmer and less erratic.

Brain Breakthrough offers a home based Sound Therapy Program [The Listening Program™] that is proven to be very successful in the treatment of auditory processing disorders.

How HeartMath May Help

Coherence Training In Children With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:

Cognitive Functions and Behavioral Changes Anthony Lloyd, Ph.D.; Davide Brett, B.Sc.; Ketith Wesnes, Ph.D. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2010; 16 (4):34-42.

Abstract Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most prevalent behavioral diagnosis in children, with an estimated 500 000 children affected in the United Kingdom alone. The need for an appropriate and effective intervention for children with ADHD is a growing concern for educators and childcare agencies. This randomized controlled clinical trial evaluated the impact of the HeartMath self-regulation skills and coherence training program (Institute of HeartMath, Boulder Creek, California) on a population of 38 children with ADHD in academic year groups 6, 7, and 8. Learning of the skills was supported with heart rhythm coherence monitoring and feedback technology designed to facilitate self-induced shifts in cardiac coherence. The cognitive drug research system was used to assess cognitive functioning as the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures assessed teacher and student reposted changes in behavior. Participants demonstrated significant improvements in various aspects of cognitive functioning such as delayed word recall, immediate word recall, word recognition, and episodic secondary memory. Significant improvements in behavior were also found. The results suggest that the intervention offers a physiologically based program to improve cognitive functioning in children with ADHD and improve behaviors that is appropriate to implement in a school environment.

TestEdge® National Demonstration Study Raymond Trevor Bradley, Ph.D., Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mike Atkinson, Lourdes Arguelles, Ph.D., Robert A. Rees, Ph.D. and Dana Tomasino HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, Publication No. 00-010. Boulder Creek, CA, 2007.

Abstract This study determined the correlates and consequences of stress and test anxiety in a large sample of students (980) and investigated the effects of HeartMath tools among 636 of them who were part of an experimental group compared to the other 344 who were in a control group. Teachers received instruction in the Resilient Educator®, which is designed to boost teacher performance, strengthen resiliency and improve school relationships, and students participated in the TestEdge® program, which features tools for reducing stress and test anxiety, improving academic performance and enhancing emotional and relational competence.

The study tested two major hypotheses:

1.Enhanced competence in emotional management through learning and practicing the TestEdge tools would result in significant improvements in student emotional self-regulation and psychophysiological coherence. These changes would produce a marked reduction in test anxiety and generate a corresponding improvement in academic and test performance.

2. There would be associated improvements in stress management, emotional stability, and overall student well-being, as well as improvements in classroom climate, organization and function.

We found consistent evidence of positive effects from the intervention on the students at the intervention school when their stress levels, emotional stability and the results of other measures were compared with those of students at the control school. Students in the experimental group had acquired the ability to self-activate the coherent state prior to taking an important test. This ability to self-activate coherence was associated with significant reductions in test anxiety and corresponding improvements in measures of emotional disposition.

Of those students at the intervention school who reported test anxiety at the beginning of the study, 75% showed reduced levels of test anxiety by the end of it. This reduction in mean test anxiety also was evident for more than three-quarters of all classrooms and it was observed throughout the academic ability spectrum. Additionally, there was a significant increase in test performance in the experimental group over the control group.

We expected the TestEdge intervention to significantly affect the quality of relations in the classroom by improving the socioemotional skills of all classroom members. Therefore, we added an observational component to the study in order to map the interactional patterns in the two schools and to observe teacher implementation of the TestEdge program with students.

Quotes, thematic analyses and discussion of trends are presented in the results section. The data suggest that when students self-manage their stress using coherence-building methods, it enables them to achieve both a significant reduction in test-related anxiety and a corresponding improvement in standardized test scores. Specifically, results from the post-intervention physiological experiment demonstrated that the students in the experimental group had acquired the ability to self-activate the coherent state prior to taking an important test. This ability to self-activate coherence was associated with significant reductions in test anxiety and corresponding improvements in measures of emotional disposition.

For the full 372 page e-Book version of the Reducing Test Anxiety and Improving Test Performance in American’s Schools: Summary of Results From The TestEdge National Demonstration Study, go here: downloads/pdf/education/tends_report.pdf